Tomato is one of the best dietary sources of lycopene. Actually, all tomato products are rich in lycopene. But, sun-dried tomatoes are the richest food in lycopene, with 46 mg per 100g.
Why is lycopene good for you?
Lycopene is a carotenoid and one of the most powerful antioxidants. It’s twice more powerful than beta-carotene and 10 times more powerful than alpha-tocopherol. Moreover, lycopene is the most predominant carotenoid in the blood.
Most noteworthy, lycopene has been linked to a decreased risk of chronic diseases, such as cancer and cardiovascular disease. Also, lycopene is good for:
- eyesight. Researchers found that lycopene can protect your eyesight. Lycopene helped in therapy against cataracts.
- bones. Lycopene is good for bone health. It can even restore bone strength.
- Alzheimer’s disease. Lycopene may delay the development of Alzheimer’s disease.
How much lycopene do we need a day?
There isn’t an official recommended daily intake for lycopene. However, many studies have reported great health benefits for a daily lycopene intake of 15-30 mg. Most people don’t consume more than 10 mg of lycopene per day, though.
Foods high in lycopene
Only a few foods contain high amounts of lycopene. Sun-fried tomatoes are the best dietary sources of lycopene. Guava, pink grapefruit, watermelon, and papaya are also excellent sources.
Furthermore, all processed tomato products, such as tomato juice, paste, soup, sauce, and ketchup contain high amounts of lycopene.
How much lycopene in a tomato?
Tomato contains 2.6 mg of lycopene per 100g. Moreover, the lycopene content of a:
- small tomato (2-2/5″) is 2.3 mg,
- medium tomato (2-3/5″) is 3.2 mg,
- large tomato (3″) is 4.7 mg,
- cup of chopped tomatoes is 4.6 mg.
In contrast, green, yellow, and orange tomato varieties are poor in lycopene.
Lycopene in tomato juice, paste, soup, sauce & ketchup
Lycopene isn’t vulnerable to heat. So, it isn’t destroyed during food processing.
The main dietary source of lycopene in a standard Western diet is tomato products:
- tomato juice has 9 mg of lycopene per 100g
- ketchup has 14.2 mg
- tomato paste has 7.5 mg
- sun-dried tomatoes have 46 mg
- tomato soup has 5.5 mg
- tomato sauce has 16 mg
Sun-dried tomatoes are the richest dietary sources of lycopene. Most noteworthy, lycopene in processed tomato products is more bioavailable than raw tomatoes. Processing enhances the bioavailability of lycopene!
Additionally, the bioavailability of lycopene is significantly higher when we consume it with foods rich in beta-carotene!
Tomato is more than lycopene!
Besides lycopene, tomato has a great nutritional value. First, tomato supports weight loss, as it’s pretty low in calories. Even a large tomato contains no more than 35 calories!
Moreover, tomatoes can control appetite and decrease cravings for fattening foods. They keep us full for hours, due to their high fiber content.
Furthermore, tomato is pretty low in sugar. Even people with diabetes and people on keto can consume it.
Last, but not least, raw tomato is an excellent dietary source of vitamin C.